Most people put moving homes pretty high on the list of life’s most stressful experiences.
There’s a gargantuan amount of things to do for any move, whether buying and selling or moving between rentals, whether you’re moving a block or interstate, or you’re in a 1-bedroom or a 5-bedroom residence.
You haven’t stopped there, however. You are moving internationally.
You already have the regular moving to-do list… admin work on top of more admin work, real estate agents to liaise with, sorting, packing and labeling, cleaning, jobs and schools to find… plus a whole lot more.
When you move internationally, you add to the list things like learning a language, taxation issues, visa and work permit processing. Plus, you are about to make a big dive head first into a new culture and may need to find strategies for coping with culture shock.
Right now, you may well feel you have a mountain to climb before you can get happily settled into your new home. To save you a whole load of stress and a little bit of time, here are 10 hacks to help you on your way:
1. Research International Moving Companies Thoroughly
It pays to spend some time making sure you have the best moving company helping you out. Rather than instantly opting for the cheapest, do your homework and get recommendations, read reviews and speak to as many past customers as you can.
Knowing that your possessions are in safe hands, and that the customs side of things is fully organized will be worth every extra penny you invest. The stress caused by lost personal items or major holdups don’t bear thinking about.
2. Tap Into Local Knowledge Online
Long before you leave, join as many local forums and social media groups as you can that are relevant to your destination. Look out for expat groups, too. Whenever you have a query, big or small, posting a question in one of these groups can unearth local knowledge that otherwise would be hard to find on the web. So, never underestimate the power of the hive mind.
As a bonus, you may also meet people and forge some connections before you even arrive. Or if you don’t plan to be very active in the groups, just reading discussions on these pages can make you feel like you know the place a little more before you get there.
3. There’s an App for That
It’s common sense that lists are going to be a big part of the moving process. There will be to-do lists, packing lists, lists of people to inform of your move, and many others.
Forget pen and paper, and get a great organizational app on your smartphone. Sync it with other devices and you’ll never lose your lists. You’re never far from it either, so if something suddenly springs to mind when you are out and about, you can add it to the app before you forget.
A good app should allow you to pin important information from the web, and add photos and voice memos into your notes, too. All your moving info in one central place, never far away, and not possible to mislay: brilliant.
4. Start Editing Your Possessions as Soon as Possible
It’s quite incredible how much stuff people can amass in a short space of time. Before an international move, you need to think carefully about what you want to keep to avoid unnecessary costs.
Sorting through your belongings shouldn’t be a last minute task. Do so, and you will have a stressful time trying to find new homes for furniture or valuable items you won’t be taking with you. Allow time to arrange the sale of stuff now (weeks away from your move) so that you get the best possible price.
Start running down your pantry, freezer and cleaning supplies cupboard so you’re not throwing out good stuff the day before you move and feeling like you wasted money.
5. Get Ahead With Health Checks
Navigating a completely different healthcare system can be hard work. Getting even mildly sick mid-move is super-stressful, too. So, it makes sense to do what you can to be in tip-top health over the move period, and to avoid routine health examinations until after you have settled.
Therefore schedule immunizations, health checks, optician’s appointments, ob-gyn and dental checks before you go. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time afterward for any necessary treatment to take place. Pick up prescriptions and medicines to see you through for as long as possible, too.
Double check your health insurance so you are covered the moment you arrive in your new home country, and check out where to go in an emergency should you need to.
6. Get Professional Help With Taxation
Even if your tax affairs are very ordinary at home, it’s worth getting some professional advice on managing your tax affairs when being paid in a different country, or even currency. International taxation can be very complex.
This way, you can avoid unwittingly landing yourself in serious trouble, save time and a lot of stress, plus possibly even save some money on tax as well.
7. Store Vital Information in the Cloud
For documents you just cannot lose, it’s worth keeping them on your person in your best carry-on luggage. Just in case, it’s prudent to scan or take photos of important documents and numbers and store them in a secure cloud storage service. Email these to yourself as back up, too.
If you ever lose something so important, you’ll be glad you did this.
8. Pack Before the Packers Arrive
To avoid any confusion, fully pack your carry-on and hold baggage before the moving company packers arrive. They are always incredibly quick and efficient, and the last thing you need is for something vital to be boxed up before you get a chance to put it into your suitcase.
Once you are done, mark out and label a strict no-pack zone for these bags to be totally sure the right stuff stays with you.
9. Think ‘Outside the Suitcase’
It’s worth saying that, since this is no vacation, you need to pack your hold baggage in a different way. Along with clothing, shoes and toiletries, try to pack any household items that are likely to be really useful and not easy to replace quickly in a supermarket.
Think things like, chargers for all your devices; toys and books that will help your kids feel instantly more at home; a sharp knife, scissors and other indispensable kitchen items, and anything else you can’t live without at home.
If you have space, add a few things that can instantly give your new home a welcoming touch.
There’s no denying that an international move is a big deal, requiring lots of time and effort, but by using these hacks, you’ll save yourself some time and from stress.
Finally, whenever things get tough, stop and remind yourself why you’re making this move: what an incredible adventure you will have ahead of you!
Craig Jones is the Managing Director at Aussiemove, Australia’s largest independent moving alliance. Craig is a respected member of the removalist network in Australia, having served in senior positions, including the President of the removal industries governing body, the Australian Furniture Removals Association (AFRA). With 23 years of experience at Aussiemove, he has the skills and the highly trained team to move families safely and reliably, in Adelaide, across Australia and around the world.